Final planned arrests made in Port Colborne sexual assault investigation

NRP LogoNiagara Regional Police Service press release –  n June of 2018 members of the Niagara Regional Police Service Special Victims Unit entered into an investigation of historical sexual and physical abuse alleged to have occurred in Port Colborne over a period of 20 years.

The investigation was headed by the Sexual Assault Unit with assistance from the Child Abuse Unit, Domestic Violence Unit, Internet Child Exploitation Unit, Special Investigative Services and members of District Operations in 6 District Port Colborne.

On Thursday, Nov. 28/2018 members of the project team carried out the final planned arrests in connection with this investigation. Three men were arrested and face the following charges:

– 78-year-old Clem Laroche of Port Colborne is charged with Sexual Assault
– 56-year-old Bruno Morin of Welland is charged with Sexual Assault
– 52-year-old Gerald Fleming of Port Colborne is charged with Fail to Comply with Recognizance

Clem Laroche and Bruno Morin were released on an Officer-in-Charge Undertaking and are scheduled to appear at the Welland courthouse on Friday, January 11/2019.

Gerald Fleming appeared at bail court in St. Catharines on November 29, 2018.

At this point, further arrests are not anticipated, but the investigation will remain open in the event that additional victims or witnesses come forward. Investigators believe that there are victims and witnesses who have not yet come forward to fully participate in this investigation.

Investigators have conducted interviews with more than 80 witnesses and identified eight victims in connection with this investigation. The alleged offences took place at a number of locations throughout the City of Port Colborne, on a number of dates over the past 20 years. Ten people have been charged with the combined total of 74 alleged criminal offences. They remain scheduled to appear in court to answer to the charges.

Chief of Police Bryan MacCulloch made the following statement about the investigation:

“The allegations brought forward by this investigation are disturbing; they have captured the attention of the community of Port Colborne. The community response during this investigation has been tremendous. We owe a debt of gratitude to the citizens of Port Colborne for coming forward to assist our investigators. This investigation highlights the importance of partnering with our communities to address serious issues concerning the safety and well-being of our citizens. The Niagara Regional Police Service is committed to the continued engagement with all Niagara communities to ensure effective outcomes to policing issues.”

The Special Victims Unit of the Niagara Regional Police Service is composed of investigative units with specific mandates of investigating allegations of crimes committed against persons, especially in vulnerable circumstances, including: Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse, Investigative Analysis (Violent Crime), Internet Child Exploitation, Cyber Crime and Technological Crime.